Low temp fluctuations

Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:04 pm

So I just tried my first barley wine and I got the SG to 1.107. I based it losely off of Jamil's recipe and used WLP001. I made a pretty big starter. So I threw it in my trusty fermenter (converted fridge with Johnson controller) that is in my garage. I have been using it as a fermenter for a few months with no problem. I just brewed about 2 weeks ago and I live in Texas. Kind of south Texas. Where I live is important because it is hot as shit here in Texas. I didn't have a heat source in my fermenter. Some how hell froze over and the temps recently dropped here in Austin and my beer temp was fluctuating between 68 and maybe 55 at night. I finally got a heat source. I know high temp fluctuations give bad off flavored, but what can I expect from the low temp fluctuations, and what do I need to do to help my beer be all it can be?
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humpadilo
 
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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:28 pm

humpadilo wrote:I know high temp fluctuations give bad off flavored, but what can I expect from the low temp fluctuations, and what do I need to do to help my beer be all it can be?

I don't think low temp fluctuations are going to mess with the brew flavor, but what they might do is flocculate your yeast (if the wort temp gets low enough). The good news is that 5 or 10 gallons of wort has a lot of thermal mass, so if you're running at 68F in the fridge fermentation chamber and the temp drops into the 40s overnight the insulated fridge is not going to have much of a temp drop inside because it's insulated 12 ways from zero, and even if it does the 5 or 10 gallons of wort is not going to drop much at all because it has a large thermal mass (calories required to raise or lower its temp one degree), and a high volume to surface area.

But definitely get a two stage controller and a heat source because the situation is only going to get worse as we go into winter.

Charlie (in Shreveport)
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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:24 am

Your only real worry is a stuck/stalled/slow fermentation. I'd keep an eye on the gravity. Depending on how low your gravity is currently ramping it up a touch wouldn't hurt.

Must be tough for you guys. 55, now that's chilly ;)

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:D It's actually warmed up a lot here. It was -9F on Thanksgiving. Today it's 42F & rainy, which is really odd for this time of year.
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Ozwald
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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:29 am

I have a STC-1000 controller and I went and got a heat lamp from Petsmart. I should be good now. I usually tape the thermometer to the side of the bucket in the fermenter and that is what dropped so low.
That's good to hear that I don't need to worry about the flavor. What about if my yeast drops out? Should I pitch more WLP001 or since it's a barley wine should get a higher attenuation English yeast to finish up anything the California common doesn't eat up? I know that is probably a subjective question, but any opinions would be appreciated.

Damn right 55 is cold. I couldn't go out in shorts the other day. :cry:
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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:56 pm

If you are using 001 I would not worry too much about your yeast stalling on you. As Charles said, the thermal mass of your fermenter should hold the temps fairly especially paired with some exothermic heat being given off by a strong fermentation of a big barley wine like that. That cal ale strain is pretty forgiving and can even work in the mid to high 50's given enough time. If it were me, I would start to bump the temps up a bit after 1 week of fermentation to keep the yeast active and happy so they are sure to finish out your fermentation. Be sure to give this beer at least 3-4 weeks total time (more like 4) in order to totally finish fermenting and clean up after itself (condition) prior to packaging.

BTW Oz, I am in the "I can't feel my legs" zone and it too has been strangely warm lately. We just broke an over 100 year record of not having any recorded snowfall amounts prior to December. Its supposed to be 63F this Sunday. WTF?
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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:20 pm

I use one of the so-called "Ceramic" heaters in my FC. You need to get one that has analog controls (knobs, not buttons) so that you can set it on medium or high, and it doesn't reset it's self to "Off" when the power is interrupted by the controller. I don't know if Wally World has them (I haven't looked there), but mom and pop hardware stores are a good source.

North Louisiana is in that same situation right now. Last week it was in the low 30s at night, and this week it's 70'ish days and 50'ish nights. My 2-stage controller is set at Cool: 67F +2 -0, and Heat" 67F -2 + 0. So if the FC reaches 69F the cooling cycle pulls it down to 67F, and if it gets below 65F the heater pulls it up to 67F. That's a four degree F range, but it's the best I can do. Fortunately I don't have any over-run in the heat or cool cycles with the FC, otherwise they would be fighting each other.

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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:04 am

What's your gravity at currently?

001 is a workhorse & there's probably no need to worry. I'd definitely watch it closely before doing anything. The quickest way to ruin a beer is to start "fixing" it before you're sure there's even a problem to fix.

All the snow melted from my yard this morning. :shock: It's freakin' 60 out there right now. We should be in the single digits if not colder right now. Not that it really matters... I was out brushing snow off my car in a tank top when it was -3F a couple weeks ago. Pfft. Hasn't gotten cold yet. In 2011, roughly this time of year the warmest it got in a 3 week time span was -17F. And that was just briefly one afternoon. It was between -22F & -35F most of the time. One night it got down to -49F. I actually had to put on a coat.
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Re: Low temp fluctuations

Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:31 pm

Ozwald wrote:What's your gravity at currently?
it got in a 3 week time span was -17F. And that was just briefly one afternoon. It was between -22F & -35F most of the time. One night it got down to -49F. I actually had to put on a coat.



Ah, lagering temps
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